Men's Basketball Overcomes 24-Point Deficit, Tops Brown, 85-78
Keith Wright led all scorers with 22 points (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Keith Wright recorded his ninth double-double of the season, scoring 22 points and collecting 14 rebounds, as the Harvard men's basketball team outscored Brown, 54-25, in the second half to earn an 85-78 win Saturday evening at Lavietes Pavilion. Wright also added a career-high five blocks as the Crimson tied its program record with its 15th straight win at home, established during from the 1945-46 to 1946-57 seasons.
After trailing by 24 points, 53-29, the Crimson tallied 56 points to Brown's 25, and in the process, established a new Harvard record for comebacks. The 24-point comeback also stands second in Ivy League history and storming back from a 22-point second-half halftime deficit ranks fourth in NCAA history.
Harvard improves to 12-0 at Lavietes Pavilion this season, establishing a program record for home wins in a season. The Crimson now stands 18-4 overall and 7-1 in the Ivy League, tying the Harvard record for best start in conference play (1970-71). Kyle Casey added 19 points and three blocks for the Crimson, while Christian Webster scored 18 and Brandyn Curry chipped in with 10 points and five assists.
The loss drops Brown to 9-13 overall and 2-6 in the Ancient Eight. Sean McGonagill led the Bears with 18 points, while Garrett Leffelman tallied 14.
Harvard, which trailed 53-31 at the break, shot 68 percent in the second half and was 8-of-11 from long distance in the frame (.727). The Crimson owned a 35-24 advantage on the boards and blocked nine shots as a team, a season-best.
Wright made a layup after getting fouled, but missed the free throw as Brown led early, 3-2. Wright hit another basket on the Crimson's next possession, but the Bears answered with a trey to remain on top, 6-4. The Bears scored three of the next four baskets to open a 12-6 advantage by the first media timeout at 15:49. Brown continued to play strong offensively and led Harvard, 19-9, with 14:09 remaining in the first half. Oliver McNally snapped the run by the Bears with an open jumper on the Crimson's first possession coming out of a timeout. Wright sank a hook shot to make it 21-13 in favor of the Bears, but Brown answered with two from the line to go back up by 10, 23-13.
A tip in by Wright got Harvard within 27-17 with 8:41 left to play in the first. Wright added a two-handed dunk, and then Curry made a running layup, but Harvard still trailed, 32-21, with 7:28 remaining. Matt Brown buried a jumper from the left corner, getting the Crimson within nine, 32-23. Wright made two from the foul line with 4:43 to go, making it 39-27 in favor of the Bears. Brown, which shot 63.3 percent from the field in the half, opened up a 48-27 lead with 2:15 to play and led, 53-31, heading into halftime. The Bears also made 8-of-12 shots from beyond the arc (.667), while the Crimson sank 13-of-29 buckets (.448). Wright paced Harvard with 14 points and seven rebounds in the stanza.
After Brown scored the first basket of the second half to claim a 24-point lead, Harvard tallied the next six points to get within 55-37. Then Wright hit two free throws to make it 55-39 in favor of Brown. On the Crimson's next possession, Casey grabbed the ball off a missed jump shot by Webster and slammed it home for two more points. Webster buried a trey the next time Harvard had the ball, as the Crimson continued to chip away, 58-44. With 13:48 to play, Webster hit another 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 62-49. Laurent Rivard continued Harvard's success from long distance, hitting a shot from beyond the arc from the right wing, getting Harvard within just 10 points, 62-52.
Webster made a steal on the Harvard defensive end and made a layup, cutting the deficit to eight. Wright made a dunk on a fast break moments later to cut Brown's lead further and then Curry drilled a wide open trey with just under nine minutes remaining to give Harvard its first lead of the half, 65-64, as the Crimson outscored the Bears, 34-11, to open the second half. Brown scored on its next possession to regain a lead, 66-65, but the Crimson came right back with a trey by Webster and a layup with contact by Casey, as Harvard led, 70-66, with 6:58 remaining.
Harvard opened up a 73-66 advantage with 5:40 left when Curry made a jumper in the paint. Curry drilled a trey on Harvard's next time down the floor, giving the Crimson its largest lead, 76-66. With 53.8 ticks left on the clock, Casey connected on two free throws, putting Harvard back up by 10, 79-69. Brown got back within six, 81-75, but Rivard hit two from the charity stripe after being fouled to clinch the game.
Harvard will head back on the road for the next four games, beginning with a matchup at Cornell Friday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.